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Still Life with Bullets

By Paulette Beete

Orlando Jones, a black actor, douses himself
in a bucket of bullets. I flinch. Bullet against
brown skin even without the bruised and
busted aftermath is no easy thing to bear. Even
at the distance of Facebook. There is nothing beautiful
about the gilt curves of each bullet, nothing admirable
about the bullet’s svelte ferocity, no safety knowing
these bullets are holding their tempers. Afterwards
the spent bullets lie on pavements, hide in bodies satisfied
that they have perfectly executed what they are
built to do. How many of us brown people can say that?
That we have utterly spent ourselves on the purpose that
made us who we are? How many of us never become
much of anything but skin stuffed with rage and grief?

Added: Friday, February 9, 2018  /  Used with permission.
Paulette Beete
Photo by Carrie Holbo Photography.

Paulette Beete's poems, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in journals including Crab Orchard Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Gargoyle, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly, among many others, and in the anthologies Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC and Saints of Hysteria (with Danna Ephland). She has also published two chapbooks of poetry: Blues for a Pretty Girl (Finishing Line Press) and Voice Lessons (Plan B Press). She has been a Winter Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and several of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Please visit her website.

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